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Report Card on Quebec Prosperity 2014

Published on September 22nd 2014
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The Report Card on Quebec Prosperity, which the Quebec Employers Council has published annually since 2010, highlights the province of Quebec’s main strengths and weaknesses. Over the years, it has noted that some aspects of Quebec’s economic performance has failed to measure up compared to that of other Canadian provinces or that of many countries. These findings have generally been the same over the last five years, as we will see later on. Whether in terms of the major variable of collective wealth, or of other variables that will be analyzed below in greater depth, Quebec continues to lag behind. Our GDP per capita, which is compared in the following chart with that of three other Canadian provinces and Canada as a whole, as well as that of the United States and other OECD countries, ranks 22nd among the 39 provinces and countries analyzed. For some, prosperity should not be measured by only taking the GDP of a society into account; it should also include a measure of the happiness and well-being of its population.(1)

We are not contradicting the definition of prosperity – more of a social nature – embraced by many social players in Quebec. But we believe it is not the role of the Quebec Employers Council – representing employers – to gauge the level of happiness or the quality of life of Quebecers.

Our premise is that the more a society promotes the creation and growth of its businesses, the more it thereby encourages job creation, higher income, wealth creation and a higher standard of living of its citizens. And, it is noteworthy that many university studies have found economic prosperity and well-being are two closely linked variables.(2)

The GDP per capita, expressed in terms of purchasing power parity, despite its limitations – and for lack of the existence of a more comprehensive index – remains the leading measurable assessment of the well-being of the population of a given state and its ability to pay (notably for public services). We also believe a good number of our fellow citizens – although maybe still not a sufficient number – share this conviction.

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  1. Many measures exist to try to evaluate people’s well-being, with each such measurement having its own characteristics and limitations. One of the most widely known is the famed Human Development Index. One of the OECD’s recent indexes is the Better Life Index, first published in 2011. Two researchers, Luc Godbout and Marcelin Joanis, had calculated the Better Life Index for Quebec. Quebec performed slightly better than Canada. And since Canada then ranked second, just behind Australia, Quebec would be first in world rankings. In 2014, the OECD released a version of the Better Life Index for member country regions. This version had only eight indicators, compared to 20 in the original index. As journalist Alain Dubuc reported, with these indicators, Quebec receives a grade of 60.4, below the Canadian average of 61.7 and behind British Columbia, the leader with 63.9, followed by Alberta and Ontario with 61.6. It should also be noted that Canada’s ranking has been declining since 2011. In 2014, it ranks fifth in the world, behind Australia and three Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden
  2. See notably the Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson study published in the American Economic Review in May 2013.
Report Card on Quebec Prosperity 2014